April 10, 2008
After a shopping trip last week, Nova now has a new cotton sheet, bridle, and a happy mouth bit. I want to work on our bridling issues, but will save that for the weekend when I have all day.
But onto the important stuff. Nova was FANTASTIC today!!! I was so, so, so proud of him. I decided because the weather was quite nice out that I would take him to the arena and lunge him. Unlike usual, I didn't bring anyone with him (no distractions that way), and he actually walked down very nicely. No jogging, bumping into me, etc. Once we got there and I got him trotting around I thought I might have a hard time because he didn't seem too energetic. But thankfully he did really well - he didn't put any 'extra' effort into moving today, but that's okay with me. We did some nice relaxed trotting to the left, walked, changed directions, walked, trotted, changed directions again, walked, short trot, nice canter for a round, trot a round, canter another round, stop (I went over and gave him a treat), then sent him out the other way for a trot then canter (he did pick up the wrong lead twice, but was easy to bring down to a trot, then back up to a canter where he picked it up correctly). I let him canter more to the right as it's his 'bad' side, though he still seems quite balanced cantering around. He just listened to me perfectly today, and was very relaxed going around (I had absolutely no trouble getting him to come down to a walk - usually a sticking point for us).
He also behaved himself on the way back as well, and enjoyed the beet pulp that I had waiting for him.
Today was a very rewarding day, because it's nice to know that I do know how to teach a horse to lunge! And it was just such an absolute pleasure to work with him today. Now, hopefully his feet will be trimmed next week and I can do some real work with him.
April 13, 2008
After asking for, and receiving some, suggestions for bridling Nova I decided today was the day to try them out. It was absolutely gorgeous out (+20 and sunny), but almost too much, I felt like I was going to die!
Anyway, I'd got the suggestion for using molasses on the bit, so I tried that... Well, more molasses ended up on my hands than ended up in his mouth. Ewww, what a sticky mess that was. Anyway, I attempted to tickle his tongue with my thumb/fingers to get him to open his mouth - same response as usual... Nothing. He doesn't seem to care about that. And actually, because he had his poll at about shoulder height on me, I just decided to wait him out. He was basically standing there like a stubborn little boy - not fighting me (by moving around), and just keeping his teeth firmly closed. So, we waited. It probably took almost 10 minutes before he finally gave in and opened his mouth and took the bit. I left him standing there with it on while I rinsed off my hands. Then went and took it off - to stop the head throwing, bit holding problem, I gave him a cookie to munch on as I carefully slipped the bridle off. It worked really well, as he only lifted his head up a bit, and held onto the bit for a few extra seconds.
And of course, I didn't just do it once, I did it one more time, and he did take the bit after a minute or two, and also dropped it the same as the time before. And amazingly, both of those times he even stopped chewing after a minute. But I decided I wanted pictures with just his bridle on (halter had been on under the bridle the first two times), so back on went the bridle. I even pulled him away from his beet pulp to do this. He was great to bridle the third time! Only backed up a couple steps, then opened his mouth and took the bit. All three times he kept his head quite low for me, so it was easy to slip the bridle off - I hope he'll keep that up! Er... Down!
Anyway, it's like he knew that we wanted pictures, because he would not stop chewing for a second! Ugh. But that's okay, because that's not the issue we were working on. All in all I was very, very, pleased with him today! I definitely think that the happy mouth is helping, because there isn't any hard metal against his teeth. So yay, my $50 bit is working! Thank goodness!
April 27, 2008
Thank heavens the snow is starting to disappear again... Finally!
Today was a big day for Nova - and he was a superstar! I ran to the barn and got my trainer's side-pull for us to use on Nova. I had the idea last week to try it because she said she uses it on the babies she starts, and because he's still a bit fussy with the bit. This way he's not concentrating on chewing on the annoying thing in his mouth, and instead is concentrating on what he's being asked to do.
So we put the surcingle, the side-pull, and then Mom's driving reins, and off she went to ground drive him again. At the start he was a bit confused (or perhaps, stubborn) and didn't really move forward. Instead he'd just turn his bum around trying to get out of her way. So I walked by his head a minute to get him going a bit (but only for a short time, as he was following me and not listening to Mom). She then got him going a bit, so I ran inside to get the camera, and when I came out they were walking all over the yard! Mom was very proud of him, and I think he did better than she expected him to do. She also said that when she did everything right, so did he, but sometimes she didn't, so she can't blame him for that.
After that successful part, I decided to get on. He was being very level-headed today (he is normally, but today he was a bit more lazy than usual). So on went my saddle and NEW girth. (Bought it at the Mane Event the day before!) I'm so happy that he never cares about being tacked up - and that's a relatively new thing for him still. I mounted from the ground (I will practice from the mounting block soon too, but for now he can also learn that having the saddle yanked on and me bouncing up from the ground isn't a bad thing), and he didn't do anything. Sat for a moment, then had Mom lead us around the yard. Same thing as with the ground driving - he pays attention to the person on the ground, not the person doing the steering.
So after a minute I had Mom unclip us. Nova was not nervous at all about me being up there. The steering was a bit iffy, partly because he really didn't want to move (I think he prefers standing around with me on him better than this whole concept of moving). He was turning circles for me (the left better than the right [his bad side]), and for a greenie who doesn't know much of anything, he was listening.
(And you will notice what Nova thinks of this whole 'riding' business!)
Towards the end he decided that after I'd whoa'd him, he didn't really want to walk again. I continued to nudge him, but Mom walked behind him and encouraged him with the lead rope a bit (just bumping him with it) - this is because he was just being stubborn about it. He was completely relaxed and unconcerned about what I was asking him to do. And he knew what I wanted, since I'd asked him to do it earlier in 'the ride'. Anyway, I got him going, did another circle, stopped him, then got him to walk over to the tack room to finish the ride.
All in all, I was VERY proud of him! We didn't leave the yard because the circle had a bunch of cars on it (yep, right on the road... Because the guy building the 66 houses beside our place doesn't have that road paved, so they leave the cars parked right in the middle of the road), and the arena was still a bit wet. The weather looks good for the next few days, so I'm hoping to get him down there once or twice this week.
April 29, 2008
The weather was fantastic again today, so since my headache finally went away. So today was a lunging day.
The walk down to the arena was uneventful. Nova gave a little whinny to our neighbour's mares who were across the road in a different pasture. After a bit of looking he continued on quite nicely.
Once we got down to business he was very, very spunky considering it was quite warm out. He pretty much wanted to get out and trot and canter, so I let him. After spooking at the 'mud' (aka the damp area of the arena) and being a goof he did settle down a bit. After a few minutes of trotting and cantering he settled down and listened.
Since he was feeling pretty spunky we decided to lunge him over the barrels to see if he'd jump. We had done this once last summer, and he was good then too. At first we took the pole (unfortunately there was only one long enough) and had it resting on the barrel and the other end on the ground. He hopped over it nicely and dare I say somewhat enthusiastically? He could have tried to run around it, but instead aimed nicely for it and hopped over. Since I couldn't make a x-rail I just put the pole up on the barrels and had him go over in both directions. He did well the first few times, but towards the end (partially because he was a bit tired, methinks) he started to stop before the jump, but with very little encouragement he would pop over it. So I got one more good jump, then dropped the pole to the ground and had him trot over it once more (just to make sure he felt comfortable at the end).
Here's a video clip of him jumping: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sfazRcaNDw
And here's a clip of him going over the ground pole the last time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAcxK_k8F_o